Former medical director the mastermind behind healthy MAF recipes
To say that Dr. Coralee Thompson is a fanatic about healthy eating would be an unpalatable understatement.
The former medical director and mastermind behind many of the MAF recipes takes healthy eating to the another level, growing much of her own food, seeking out clean sources for ingredients, and adapting recipes and cooking styles to meet her demanding standards for wholesomeness.
Ironically, it wasn’t always this way for Dr. Thompson. As a young mother and medical student she recalls eating poorly, dining on carry-out pizzas, and other foods full of processed carbohydrates and sugar.
Since meeting Dr. Phil Maffetone at a conference in 1997 that’s all changed.
“I have to admit one of my most difficult and least-interesting courses in med school was biochemistry, largely because it was geared toward pharmacology and not nutrition,” Dr. Thompson recalls. “Later, when I became focused on nutrition I became much more interested in what does food do — what are these pathways of nutrition, and what foods support these pathways?”
She says what most doctors do is pick a synthetic vitamin to fulfill that pathway, and indeed that’s what she did for a while before realizing that the real power is in food not in a pill.
As Dr. Thompson became more interested in nutrition, she began to incorporate her newfound knowledge into her work with brain-injured children. She has since retired but continues to consult for parents of neuro-diverse children.
In subsequent years, Dr. Thompson partnered with Dr. Maffetone, they bought a home in the Arizona desert where she could garden seriously, and take her passion for food and nutrition to new heights.
“We’ve become become more insistent about the quality of what we get, so locally sourcing eggs when we don’t have our own chickens, seeking out grassfed dairy products from Jersey cows, pork from pasture-raised pigs, and grassfed beef,” she says. “I’ve also learned you don’t need a whole lot of fancy stuff for preparing meals either.”
While taking this extra effort may seem like a lot of work to some, the flip side is that quality ingredients make things so much easier in the kitchen.
“Food coming straight from the garden hardly needs anything at all — the fresher the better,” she says. “Expect that the simple and fresh is a winner all the time. The closer the food is to the earth the better.”
Dr. Thompson’s philosophy in the kitchen is that cooking doesn’t have to be complicated when the ingredients are real food — like a grilled steak accompanied by a huge salad with some red, green and orange, and a little olive oil.
Today she continues to explore the myriad combinations of fresh and wholesome foods — particularly incorporating large amounts of nutritious vegetables into various dishes. She analyzes food photos and even occasionally goes out to a fine restaurant to learn more about how flavors can be combined to enhance each other, and developing the art of presentation because she believes eye-appeal has a profound effect on the way food tastes.
“I’ve decided that the only reason to go out to a restaurant is to get ideas, and then to do it better at home,” she says.
Dr. Thompson continues to focus on nutrition in her work with parents and their children, building on her growing background and knowledge of how eating well can help improve the lives of special-needs children.
“When I talk to parents of special-needs children, my goal is inspiring them to eat real food and to develop their palate, but more than that I want to help improve their relationships to food,” Dr. Thompson says. “One of the first things mothers will tell me is they don’t cook. One of the scariest things is changing their relationship with food, and this is also the way it works with children.”
She says the fact of the matter is that good food is simple and it’s easy. “Just putting a roast in a crockpot with salt is simple and it’s amazing. I look at it and think, how does food do this?”
It all cooks down to just three words: “Food is amazing!”
By Hal Walter